They said it was a longshot, but South Florida made the first cut.
Miami is on the list of 20 finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters — HQ2, for short. And by Miami, we mean Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The economic development agencies in each county teamed up and submitted an application to go for the gold. It’s South Florida’s most savvy display of regional cooperation yet.
Amazon is conducting what is likely the most competitive and public competition ever to land a corporate headquarters. It promises to bring 50,000 jobs, plus $50 billion influx of revenue. With cities across the country doing backflips to nab HQ2, there are also high expectations that Amazon, too, will jump through hoops to fulfill its promises wherever it goes.
Congratulations go to the Beacon Council, which led the effort and turned it into a regional entry, submitting eight potential sites, with five of them in Miami-Dade, two in Broward and one in Palm Beach.
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Amazon has made clear what it wants for HQ2: a business-friendly environment, a highly trained technical workforce, financial incentives and transportation infrastructure. How do we stack up?
We differ with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who is concerned — not without cause — about the local “brain drain,” where educated and talented young people leave for better-paying jobs outside South Florida. However, Greater Miami already is a magnet for tech start-ups and innovation. That means the talent is here, wants to be here and will keep coming, especially if the region ultimately scores HQ2. In the long-term, Amazon and the industries that inevitably will grow up around it, will incentivize local graduates to stay, to create, to innovate.
As for transportation, here’s a prediction: Nabbing Amazon on the region’s positives could be the perfect kick in the rear for local leaders to fix what’s broken sooner rather than later. Plus, there’s Brightline to tout, now.
And we can’t discount Miami’s hometown advantage. There’s every reason to believe that Amazon founder JeffBezos thinks fondly upon his years here as a student at Miami Palmetto Senior High School. We know nostalgia probably isn’t a huge factor here, but, hey, whatever works.
After considering 238 proposals, Amazon narrowed its search for an HQ2 site on Thursday to Miami and Atlanta; Austin; Boston; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Montgomery County, Maryland; Nashville; Newark; New York City; Northern Virginia; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, North Carolina; Toronto, Canada; and Washington, D.C.
Of the 20 finalists, 13, including Miami, declined requests from The Associated Press to release their applications, so we’re not sure what was promised. Understandably, many cities don’t want competitors to know what they’re offering. At some point, however, taxpayers must be informed as to what they might be asked to fund — and how much.
Miami and South Florida have every reason to be proud. After all, we were told we were a long shot. Now, on to the finish line.
How would you seal the deal? Send your 15-second video pitch to lure Amazon to South Florida to HeraldEd@MiamiHerald.com. We’ll post the most persuasive.